One Invercargill based company’s decision to convert to wood energy is proving sustainable both financially and environmentally and leads to a healthy environment for his co-workers and the community.
It’s estimated that four times more New Zealanders die each year from the inhalation of particulates than are killed on New Zealand roads annually. Many more New Zealanders develop debilitating respiratory conditions.
In 2008 Group Managing Director of McCallums Dry Cleaning and Apparelmaster Wayne McCallum withdrew from the day to day running of the business to devote himself to researching and finding a sustainable source of energy.
“We had one LPG and two oil fired boilers and they were proving cost prohibitive to continue operating so I spent a great deal of time researching possible options before settling on wood energy”.
“Now water entering our Otepuni Avenue plant is heated by a wood fired boiler and utilised in seven different ways within the plant including laundering product, collecting heat and scrubbing emissions. The emission control was the primary purpose of the scrubbing system any heat recovery was considered an added benefit”.
McCallums “scrub” by spraying boiler emissions with water to remove dangerous particulates from flue gases before they’re dispersed into the Invercargill air shed.
McCallums proved a great case study for SIT student Aleksei Baboshko who identified efficiencies McCallums could make further savings for the operation and lower the emissions still further.
Particulates are small inhalable particles with diameters smaller than 10 micrometres. How small is 10 micrometres? 1/10th the thickness of a single human hair. The smaller the particle the deeper they can embed in the lungs.
Wood Energy South Manager Stephen Canny says that there are now nine woodchip and biomass boilers operating in Southland delivering benefits for businesses, community organisations and the community. “Wayne McCallum has been a true Trail Blazer in the use of essentially ‘wood waste’ to produce a cost effective boiler fuel. It is heartening to see that this approach has also been adopted or investigated by local businesses, schools and community organisations such as Invercargill City Council and Environment Southland”.
“Venture Southland is working in partnership with EECA (Energy Efficiency and Conservation Authority) to help organisations convert to cleaner wood energy. Venture Southland has funds available to conduct conversion feasibility studies”.
Environment Southland is currently reviewing the particulate matter standards in the Invercargill and Gore air sheds with stage one, covering domestic particulate emissions completed and stage two, covering industrial emissions at the scoping stage.
Environment Southland air quality scientist Owen West is applauding McCallums efforts to lower particulate emissions.
“Every step industry takes towards cleaning up the air shed contributes to the overall health and wellbeing of the community. McCallums provides an excellent example for others to follow.”